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Project launched to equip young people with entrepreneurial skills

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A new project has been launched to support young people in Devon to develop key employability skills and gain an insight into entrepreneurship.

“Young Entrepreneurs” is being funded through our £6million recovery programme in response to the pandemic.

Devon has a high number of SMEs and micro-businesses, so provision of good quality enterprise education is vital in preparing young people for their future employment in the county if they plan to be self-employed or work in small enterprises.

The Young Entrepreneurs project supports the delivery of enterprise education across Devon, particularly in disadvantaged communities. It aims to allow young people to consider alternative routes into employment and will encourage them to pursue their ideas and aspirations to create new businesses and products.

The initiative is being delivered through four projects –

SETsquared and Volt Entrepreneurs Ltd:

The University of Exeter’s SETsquared works with students and graduates to bring forward business ideas and create new products or innovations. We are supporting Volt Entrepreneurs Ltd to work in partnership with SETSquared to deliver an entrepreneurial programme for young people aged 15-24 living and studying in Devon to expand opportunities in the county. Participants will learn what’s involved in launching a viable and sustainable business, and will include skills development workshops, mentoring, and provision of small grants to turn their idea into a product.

Emily Davies, SETsquared Exeter Student Startup Manager, said: “The SETsquared Student Startup programme at the University of Exeter has been delivering entrepreneurship training in higher education and beyond for many years, while the team at Volt Entrepreneurs works mostly with secondary school age groups. We are excited to be partnering on this project to deliver the education and support required to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in Devon’s Young People.”

Dr Sawsan Khuri, co-Founder and Director of Volt Entrepreneurs Ltd, said: “The skills gained by participants will equip them in any pathway to employment they pursue, challenge the limits they place on their own capabilities, and provide them with practical experience to transform their ideas into businesses.”

South Devon College:

South Devon College is developing a three-phase programme to provide students with the entrepreneurial and commercial skills that employers have identified as lacking in the labour market. We are supporting the first phase of this programme, which focuses on helping young people develop the necessary skills to operate successfully as an entrepreneur. This project will aim to attract students from across the college and will be suitable for those with different needs and aspirations. It will be delivered to students from a range of disciplines in addition to their core programme.

Laura Allison, Entrepreneur Skills Development Coordinator at South Devon College, said: “Devon County Council’s funding will enable South Devon College to develop its local talent of budding entrepreneurs, supporting 16–19 year-old students to take an initial business idea right through to the final stages of pitching their business plan to influential stakeholders. It’s a fantastic opportunity for both young people and the local economy.”

Space Youth Services:

We are providing additional funding for Space Youth Services to expand the delivery of its creative workshops and incubation sessions with hard to reach 14–19 year-olds in Devon. Participants in the workshops learn about the steps required to set up a business, from design concept and prototyping to marketing, securing intellectual property (IP), and structuring a team. The programme has been designed in partnership with young people and operates flexibly to accommodate their other commitments.

Richard Doak, Project Lead for Space Youth Services, said: “Space Youth Service’s innovative programme has been co-designed with young people, to ensure participants can adapt to their needs, level of skill and interest, keeping them engaged every step of the way. Devon County Council’s funding will support us in delivering our workshops and incubations sessions to a wider geography and help reach those who have fewer opportunities available to them or may not see creative and digital industries as an option. While developing key entrepreneurship and business design skills, participants will also benefit from boosted self-esteem and collaboration with their peers as they support each other with their ideas.”

Young Enterprise:

Young Enterprise has been successfully delivering employability and enterprise education for nearly 60 years through workshops, challenges, and its Company Programme. With our funding, it’s expanding its operation in Devon with a particular focus on schools with high numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds to allow a broader range of young people to develop the skills, competencies, and enterprising mindset gained from participation in its programmes. Young Enterprise offers shorter challenges and day programmes, as well as the longer company programme which gives participants the opportunity to set up and manage their own business with the support and guidance of local entrepreneurs.

Hannah Cook, Partnership Manager, Young Enterprise, said: “Young Enterprise is excited and proud to be working with Devon County Council to enable more young people to participate in our programmes. Meaningful opportunities and the support in which to maximise them are critical to helping young people build their futures. Participants not only gain valuable skills for how to start and manage their own business, but benefit from increased confidence, creativity and an introduction to new possibilities for future employment.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said:

“We’re establishing the Young Entrepreneurs project, working with organisations who have complementary aims and objectives, and we’ve asked them to deliver additional activities in new areas to support young people. Although not all of those who take part in the scheme will necessarily go on to be entrepreneurs, the project will provide them with invaluable transferrable skills such as an entrepreneurial mindset, increased confidence and creativity, as well as introductions to professional networks, which will benefit them in any career they pursue.”

Devon County Council’s £6 million recovery programme aims to provide help and support in four key areas during the recovery from the Covid 19 pandemic: small and medium enterprises, employment and skills, the green recovery, and the hardest hit towns and communities.

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